Put into operation in the year 1938 on the day of the patron saint of the Irish, HMS Belfast is a naval ship with a history and legacy that’s incomparable to no other vessel of its class.
The HMS Belfast history recounts tales of absolute naval efficiency and brilliance at the time of service. Post her service, she has become a museum vessel offering a glimpse of naval life during the heydays of World War II.
HMS Belfast – A Brief Overview
Part of the Edinburgh cadre of British naval ships, the Belfast was designed as a way of improving upon the existing vessels of the royal navy. The construction of the vessel took place in the Northern Irish shipbuilding yard of Harland and Wolff, two years prior to the vessel’s launch. Named by the wife of the then Prime Minister of Great Britain – Anne Chamberlain – the Belfast was the foremost ship to be named after a Northern Irish province.
The vessel was put into active line of duty in the year following its launch. Alongside the other World War II ships of its cadre (Edinburgh Cadre), the naval patrol vessel Belfast had a cache of 16-guns equipped in a four-by-four gun enclosure and several other assortments of guns and artillery to complete its cache of armaments.
HMS Belfast Facts
- The Royal Navy vessel measured almost 614 feet lengthwise, with a beam of almost 69 feet and a draught of almost 20 feet
- The vessel offered speeds touching over 30 knots
- During its first operation, the vessel was skippered by Skipper Scott, D.A.
HMS Belfast was first deployed in maritime action against the German naval forces. In its very first operation, the vessel encountered a mishap as it came under attack by a marine mine which led to its sidelining from maritime operations for the next three years.
After undergoing extensive refurbishing for almost three years, the Belfast was put into operation again in the year 1942, during the start of the peak of the Second World War.
Given the nature of the Belfast as a squad or a patrol vessel, it was deployed to safeguard the British fleet from any marine troops invading through the Northern (Arctic) naval route. The Belfast achieved several noteworthy successes while under this operational command for the royal navy, while providing thorough safeguarding to the inbound and outbound British fleet through their Northern marine navigational channels.
HMS Belfast was also one of those few chosen British naval ships that made the historic landing in the Normandy coast on the sixth of June, 1944. Its achievements and importance to the British navy did not however just end with the end of the Second World War.
During the extremely taut global conditions during the war in the Korean Peninsula in the early 1950s, the vessel acted as an important naval aid for the countries representing the United Nations, which added to its merit as a war vessel.
HMS Belfast Museum Ship
After a more than satisfactory contribution to the British navy, the Belfast was commendably and honourably discharged from active naval duty in the early 1960s. After waiting higher orders to be appropriately junked off, the Belfast was decided to be converted and conserved into a war museum thanks to the commendable efforts of the IWM (Imperial War Museum).
The efforts of the War Museum bore fruit when one of the last World War II ships was successfully transformed into a museum vessel in the early 1970s, almost a decade after her discharging.
Presently harboured at the Thames River in the city of London, the HMS Belfast Museum Ship boasts of offering the highlights of the Second World War for the present generation. Also considering that the HMS Belfast is the last vessel still existing from the original Edinburgh cadre of naval ships, tourists visiting London as a part of their touring itinerary are briefed emphatically about making the HMS Belfast Museum Ship, one of their first touring pit-stops.
References: aviewoncities, london-attractions, iwm, hnsa